When I was a kid growing up, and idolizing Barbra Streisand, I never thought I would ever perform live. But here I am, on my fourth time seeing her. And yes, even as a fan I will be the first to admit that her voice isn’t what it used to be (but whose is?) Still, at 84, it’s still pretty powerful. The clarity is pretty much gone ( I describe it as like listening to her old voice via a transistor radio) but she still hits all the notes. Perhaps it doesn’t come as effortlessly as before, but by God she gets them.
The first act is dedicated to songs from her Number One albums, and she has had one from each of the last six decades. She starts with ‘The Way We Were,’ (‘Save The Best For First,’ she says) and then goes into deep catalogue songs. My heart went into palpitations that she sang ‘Everything,’ from the A Star Is Born Soundtrack, though I wasn’t too keen on ‘At War With Each Other,’ from the ‘The Way We Were’ album, as I think it’s such a preachy treacly song. We hear bits of ‘Enough Is Enough,’ “Stoney End’ and ‘A Woman In Love’ though all those didn’t exactly come out as cohesive (They were probably out in more as a nod to fans) She goes into ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ and I don’t know why that song always slays me now. I was never a big fan of it, but you know, life happens, and suddenly the song has a lot more meaning to me than I care to admit.
The second act is not as focused. She sings songs from her upcoming album ‘Encores’ which she duets with singing male actors. An overblown arrangement of ‘Who Can I Turn To’ with Anthony Newley may be a bit too much at times, but it’s mostly harmless. And ‘Evergreen’ is wasted with arrangements from her last duets album. I love her bits from ‘Funny Lady’ and of course I am in show queen heaven when she sings ‘Losing My Mind.” (I had hoped she would sing ‘Fifty Percent’ but alas, no.) My favorite part of the whole show is the encore – I loved her dramatic version of ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was.” I love her wistful, thankful, love-ful arrangement of it. In Barbra’s hands, the song becomes a true celebration.
And her concert feels like one. I would say that the audience is filled with mostly life-long fans. It was nice to stand outside the arena after the show and just start chatting with other fans. It felt like we all belonged in the same cult and we just saw our Goddess. Chuck all this to future water-colored memory.